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Smithfield listing incites anger

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The decision to list part of London's historic Smithfield Meat Market has reignited a bitter feud over controversial plans to redevelop the site.

Last Thursday (3 March), culture secretary Tessa Jowell announced that the Red House, believed to be one of the oldest surviving purpose-built cold stores in the country, should be given a Grade-II listing.

Jowell has also written to deputy prime minister John Prescott advising him to call in KPF's redevelopment proposals - though she refused to list two neighbouring buildings on the site.

The move has shocked developer Thornfield Properties, which had earmarked the Victorian cold store for demolition to make way for a massive commercial office scheme.

'The decision has come as a surprise because the buildings have already been considered for listing five times, ' said Mike Capocci, managing director for Thornfield Properties, 'the last time was only a year ago.' However, Capocci has vowed to press on with the proposals:

'While it is disappointing to have had to wait all this time, nevertheless we feel the scheme is good for the area and we will be progressing. We will be looking at all avenues.

'The one derelict building that has been listed only forms a small part of our proposals and we are considering our options in relation to this.

'We may have to adapt our scheme but we are pleased to be able to move forward with this regeneration project, ' he added.

Despite these claims, the culture secretary's decision has been welcomed by heritage groups and will cheer the Prince of Wales, who openly backed the campaign to list all three buildings, including the triangular lavatory block.

Adam Wilkinson of SAVE Britain's Heritage said: 'This is an important victory in our campaign to prevent the demolition of the building and Sir Horace Jones' 1882 General Market buildings.

'It is vital that the application to demolish the Red House and the General Market buildings at Smithfield is called in by Prescott for proper scrutiny at a public inquiry. All of the threatened buildings sit in a conservation area designated to protect them, and the current plans ride roughshod over this, ' he added.

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